Counting the cost

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We all love a good bargain, particularly in these recessionary times when funds are tight.

There’s also something deeply satisfying about finding an item you’re looking for at a cheaper price online than on the high street.

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On the other side of the coin, there are times when trawling through pictures on a computer screen won’t suffice.

In terms of retail therapy, clicking a mouse just doesn’t compare to spending a leisurely afternoon strolling through the city’s streets.

Consumers have found themselves in a bit of a quandary.

No one wants to see our city and town centres become ghost towns of shuttered windows and empty streets – but nobody wants to be ripped off either.

A shopping trip where you constantly feel that you’re paying over the odds for your goods is hardly an enjoyable one.

Most of the retail chains which have closed their doors or entered examinership in recent weeks have cited high rents as one of their biggest obstacles.

A hefty rate of 23 per cent in VAT (Value Added Tax) on most of our high street purchases pushes prices up further.

Online retailers on the other hand can operate with vastly reduced overheads in terms of staffing costs and commercial rent.

Consumers are faced with a tough choice, pay more or lose your high street and local jobs.

Retailers are also faced with a new challenge: move with the times or call in the liquidators.

Today’s shoppers are much more savvy than before, and in the age of the economic crisis, we expect a lot more bang for our buck.

Consumer loyalty goes both ways; while we should aim to support our local economy as much as possible, retailers now need to give us more in return for our custom in terms of reduced prices, a high standard of customer service and a more enjoyable shopping experience in general.